Rural-Urban Migration in West Africa: Any Changes Post-COVID-19?
West Africa as a sub-region has one of the highest levels of intraregional migration. The sub-region has undergone intensive urbanization since the second half of the 20th century, though urbanization rates have been quite uneven across its different countries. In addition, the distinction between internal and cross-border migration in West Africa is illusive to a certain degree. Over the past decades, there have been relatively few urbanization and related policies in West Africa, with few efforts made to proactively shape both rural-urban migration and urbanization for development. Given that households in the region use rural-urban migration as a risk-diversification and livelihood strategy–often in the form of circular or seasonal labor mobility and sometimes across national borders–highly vulnerable migrant populations such as children, women, the elderly, or the forcibly displaced should receive particular attention. In the context of COVID-19, and repeated disasters including climate-related shocks, policies that take into consideration urban-rural migration are key to building back better.
The webinar underscored the importance of internal migration in West Africa and the challenges ahead. From integration mechanisms to climate change and most recently, COVID-19 pandemic have presented several risk factors that need to be mitigated. The panelists discussed how migration is taking place outside cities and how internal migrants do not usually catch up with the locals. The ongoing pandemic has added another level of uncertainty in this phenomenon and there's a need to mainstream migration into COVID-19 strategies. The webinar also delved in to policy framework for managing internal migration. Given these issues, future area of research in this field could look at an intersection of internal migration and climate change and the different mitigation/adaptation strategies executed due to compounding risks.
During this webinar, KNOMAD’s latest policy brief, that examines West Africa intraregional migration trends before COVID-19, was also presented and discussed.
Mariama Awumbila, Professor, Center for Migration Studies, University of Ghana
Ahmed Aziz Diallo, Mayor of Dori, Burkina Faso
Eva Dick,Senior researcher, German Development Institute
Alice Hertzog-Fraser, Post-Doctoral Researcher, ETH Zurich
Robert Lucas,Professor, University of Boston
Benjamin Schraven, Senior researcher, German Development Institute
Dilip Ratha, Head of KNOMAD, Lead Economist, Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice, World Bank